Blue Jays base runner Yunel Escobar scores on a squeeze bunt by teammate Adeiny Hechavarria (not shown) as Orioles catcher Matt Wieters chases the ball at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sept. 5, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)
TORONTO - Following the wipeouts that prevailed in the first two games of their series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays came back to life Wednesday night.
Displaying a little more patience and a lot of small ball precision, the Jays bounced back with a 6-4 victory to snap their losing skid at four and are rewarded with an off day Thursday.
Ricky Romero, however, will receive more than the one day.
In Wednesday night’s finale, there was no goofy roof malfunction, just good old-fashioned attention to detail and the task at hand.
“We manufacted some runs in that seventh inning,” Jays manager John Farrell said of their four-run inning. “A little bit of everything, a safety squeeze, infield hit. Needless to say, given that we started off this homestand with a couple of wins, four straight losses, to finish on a positive note is a good thing going into this road trip.”
Among those cheering from the dugout was Romero, who was crushed in Sunday’s 9-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
In that game, Romero lasted one inning plus seven batters, the shortest outing of his career.
It was the 12th consecutive loss for Romero, and over that stretch of misery the Jays have tried just about everything they could think of get him turned around.
Running short of ideas, they’ve taken to grasping at straws and decided to give Romero some extended rest.
Romero will now skip his next start in the rotation, which would likely have been Saturday in Boston, and instead will make his next start Wednesday, Sept. 12, at home against Seattle. Romero will get nine days off between starts and the hope is that he will be refreshed for his remaining starts over the final three weeks of the season.
During that time, the Jays will go with a six-man rotation that will build in an added day of rest for all of the starters.
If giving Romero a bit of a breather in an effort to get him going sounds like a last resort, it is. But the Jays figured they had to try something different, so added rest it will be.
“When we continue to go back and review all that’s been attempted, all different approaches and you look at the numbers that bear out with one additional days rest or two additional days rest, we can’t not factor that in,” Farrell said of the rationale behind the decision. “So he’ll go on nine days of rest this time. So, he’ll pitch on Wednesday against Seattle and then go every sixth day from that point.”
Farrell said the organization considered giving Romero added rest in the past, but then the lefty would come up with a decent start (such as the one Aug. 28 in New York when against the Yankees he allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings) and the idea would be scrapped.
“He’d show signs of a solid outing and we’d say: ‘Okay, let’s hold back. Maybe this is the start where he’s getting on a little bit of a run.’ ”
But Romero would follow a hopeful start with a poor one and now the Jays have seen enough so Romero will be sitting one out.
While preferring to take the ball every fifth day, Romero didn’t put up a fight when presented with the idea.
“Obviously it’s not what you want to hear,” Romero said. “Like I said all along, I get ready every fifth day. I’m sure if the circumstances were a little different, I wouldn’t be missing a start.
“It’s a little disappointing. The last thing I want to do is sit here in the dugout and kind of just sit here and think about stuff. I want to get out there and compete. But, it is what it is and you’ve got to take it for what it’s worth.”
He said he didn’t try to change their minds and isn't insulted as the ‘ace’ of the rotation to be skipped over.
“Like I said, they’re doing whatever they feel is best for me and for the team,” Romero said. “I’m not insulted by it. I want to pitch but I’m not going to sit here and pout.”
The Jays blew Wednesday’s game open in the seventh with four runs set up by a bunt single from Kelly Johnson and suicide squeeze bunt that resulted in a RBI single by Adeiny Hechavarria. A two-run single by Rajai Davis didn’t hurt matters either.
The Jays finally got on the scoreboard after being shut out the previous two games. Trailing 2-0, the Jays managed two hits in the bottom of the second to score one run. Adam Lind opened the inning with a single and one out later, Johnson hit a one-hop double off the wall to score Lind all the way from first.
Davis tied it for the Jays in the third with a solo homer to left, his seventh of the season.